By Caroline Shively Sucher
Photos Courtesy of Two Lions Vineyard
12600 Croom Rd, Upper Marlboro, MD 20772
At Two Lions Vineyards, it’s all about balance. Between beauty and function.
Between creating a swoon-worthy wedding venue and getting your hands dirty running an up-and-coming vineyard.
Or as owner Callie Hankey puts it, “Between my crazy ideas and my husband’s practicality.”
Callie and her husband Brad built the vineyard from the ground up a little over four years ago in Upper Marlboro along the Legacy Wine Trail of Southern Maryland.
“I said, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice to own a winery?’” Callie recalls. “I could drink wine and talk to people all day and my husband could be on the farm and ignore people all day which is what he likes to do.”
What started as a casual thought blending the couple’s interests has blossomed into a vineyard that looks straight out of the European countryside.
“It was inspired by our love of places in Italy and Spain and that old world feel. The walls have this textured limewash paint, we did a lot of clay inside and have that feel where you can walk in at any time of the year and it looks beautiful,” Callie says.
The vineyard only holds one event a day, featuring their tasting room, barrel room and outdoor patio for up to 120 guests.
“We really want to specialize in smaller, more intimate weddings,” Callie says. “The experience is the goal. We know if weddings get really big then you lose some of those special touches.”
The vineyard has a suite for the bride and her bridal party as part of the full package for a wedding where they can get ready, drink some wine, and relax while preparing for the ceremony.
From there, brides often start with their photographs in the vineyard’s tasting room which features a chandelier made of hand-rolled clay beads made by women artisans in Africa.
The Hankeys chose it for its simple beauty, so brides wanting a minimalist look can use the room as is, while those looking for a swankier feel can fill it with decorations and flowers.
“I’ve had a lot of people who book and then stop by, and they end up going for the more minimal look. They’ll decide they don’t need what they’d originally planned because the space is already well and thoughtfully done,” Callie explains.
Then there is the barrel room which houses French oak barrels that are filled with wine surrounding a crystal chandelier at the center of the space. When Callie and Brad were designing the room, they once again had to balance Brad’s practical side for wine making with Callie’s creative vision of the perfect wedding.
“I had this beautiful waterfall crystal chandelier I knew I wanted in there, and everything had to be planned – how wide it could be, how low it could hang because we drive a forklift in and out of there and have to move the barrels in and out. Everything has been planned as much as possible to be functional yet still have a great aesthetic.”
There is also an outdoor patio, perfect for a cocktail hour and another stunning place for photos with the vineyard as a backdrop. Receptions feature the vineyard’s own wine, but wedding parties can bring in their own beer. The same goes for vendors, with the couples choosing the florists, DJ’s, caterers, and photographers. There is no approved vendors list.
“Nothing brings people together like food, music and wine,” Callie says.
That’s the goal for the Hankeys. Bringing people together. It comes easy for this self-described “city girl from Chicago and country boy from Virginia.”
The hardest part of their journey was actually coming up with a name for their venture. They finally settled on Two Lions Vineyards as a reflection of their philosophy and their marriage.
“We are a bit of a different breed, both Type A and strong willed. We believe that you can do anything you want if you work hard enough. We love that parallel for our bride and grooms as well,” Callie explains. “When it’s all said and done, we want our bride and groom to have the perfect experience because they’ve become part of our family and our history at Two Lions.”